Monday, October 3, 2011

10 Ways of Crash-proofing Your Teen with Tech

The thought of your teen behind the wheel of a car is a scary one. Not only are you worried about the peer pressure that friends may exert, causing your teen to drive unsafely, but you face the much more serious concern that an inexperienced driver is more likely to be involved in an accident. However, there is technology out there that can help to bring you peace of mind. Here are a few options you might want to look into.

1. Steering-wheel controls. How many accidents have been caused when a driver leans over to fiddle with the stereo? If you want to avoid this type of eyes-off-the-road situation, simply look for a vehicle that has volume and other toggle controls on the steering wheel.

2. Navigation. If your teen is distracted by searching for road signs and trying to find a location he’s never been to, his focus is going to be compromised. A navigation system (either in-dash or portable) can offer up-to-date voice instructions that will safely guide your teen to his destination.

3. Bluetooth. With many states adopting hands-free laws for cell phone usage while driving, it’s not a bad idea to set your teen up with a car that has Bluetooth capabilities (or a Bluetooth headset, at the least). This will help them to keep both hands firmly on the wheel.

4. Hands-free messaging.You’ve probably seen the horrifying ads that caution against texting while driving (particularly for teens).Luckily, there are a number of new technologies emerging to stop your teen from texting in the car. Talk-to-text features can allow for a myriad of hands-free messaging options, from texting and emailing to updating Facebook.

5. HUD. A head’s up display may sound a little futuristic, since you most often see it used in video games and on military aircraft. But displaying an image of the gauge cluster on the lower portion of the windshield means that your teen never has to take his eyes off the road to check his speed or fuel level.

6. Sensors. There is currently technology in the works that will allow for a sort of “auto pilot” (no pun intended) feature for cars, by which sensor input will cause the car to maintain a specific distance from the vehicle in front of it, as well as ensure that it remains between the lines. This could be great for teens still getting used to the controls.

7. Cell-phone monitoring. There are a number of apps for cell phones that will help teen drivers, but the most useful is probably Driver Feedback for the iPhone. This program uses the phone’s accelerometer to track speed, acceleration, deceleration, and even cornering to give you information about whether or not your teen is driving safely. Make it a condition of giving your teen the keys to the car.

8. Blue Link. Hyundai takes teen driving safety very seriously. Their Blue Link system features controls that allow parents to monitor their teen’s driving habits. Geo-fence sets limitations on the areas teens may drive in, while speed limitations and curfews can also be preset. You’ll be informed by phone call, text message, or email when your teen breaks the rules.

9. MyKey. Ford goes even a step further with their MyKey system, which allows you to set controls through the key your teen uses in the car. You can enter limits on both speed and stereo volume (actually controlling the vehicle), or simply have a warning chime sound when certain speeds are exceeded.

10. Breathalyzer interlock system. Worried about drinking and driving? Consider installing a breathalyzer that will stop your teen from starting the engine if he’s been drinking, helping to keep him and everyone else on the road safe.

Carol Montrose is a writer for Cheap Car Insurance NY, where you can find great rates on car insurance. In her spare time she likes to attend writing classes at CSUN, go hiking on the weekends, and help with an animal rescue out of Los Angeles, California.

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